South Korea


Relations in "Kim Jong Un's Era"

Authors: Scott A. Snyder and See-won Byun
Comparative Connections

China-South Korea tensions rose with the announcement of the U.S.-South Korea alliance decision to deploy the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea and South Korean protests against illegal Chinese fishing. Exclusive economic zones (EEZs) remain another point of China-South Korea tension. Although China and South Korea seek to advance trade within various frameworks, such efforts only highlight a widening gap between the economic and political aspects of their relationship. Current security priorities require effective approaches to both immediate differences over THAAD and EEZs and longer-term preferences over how to effectively promote lasting stability on the Korean Peninsula, write Snyder and See Won Byun, PhD candidate in political science at the George Washington University.

See more in China; South Korea; Defense and Security; Trade


China-Korea: A Complex China-ROK Partnership

Authors: Scott A. Snyder and See-won Byun
Comparative Connections

The September China-South Korea summit in Beijing catalyzed the resumption of trilateral talks with Japan in October and the launch of the China-South Korea free trade agreement in December. Beijing’s Korean engagement also included a visit to North Korea in October by Chinese Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan for 70th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). Despite new initiatives to expand economic cooperation, Pyongyang’s apparent defiance of Chinese diplomatic efforts on denuclearization suggests further difficulties in China-North Korea relations.

See more in China; South Korea; Diplomacy and Statecraft; Regional Security

Primary Sources

Announcement by Foreign Ministers of Japan and South Korea on the Issue of "Comfort Women"

The governments of Japan and South Korea discussed the trafficking of South Korean sex slaves (known as "comfort women") in Japan during World War II. Japan agreed to provide reparations to surviviors which the government of South Korea would distribute; South Korea agreed to review the placement of a memorial statue dedicated to comfort women, which is near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.

See more in Japan; South Korea; Violence Against Women

Other Report

Unified Korea and the Future of the U.S.-South Korea Alliance

Author: Sue Mi Terry

Unification would constitute one of the most decisive changes in the history of Northeast Asia since the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, with far-reaching implications for the United States and the balance of power in the region. Sue Mi Terry outlines steps that the United States should take to increase the likelihood that the U.S.-South Korea alliance would survive the disappearance of North Korea.

See more in South Korea; United States; Diplomacy and Statecraft; Regime Changes

Other Report

Managing Japan-South Korea Tensions

Author: Mark E. Manyin

Fifty years after the establishment of official diplomatic relations between Japan and South Korea, continued animosity between the United States’ two Northeast Asian allies remains a problem for Washington, hampering its ability to deal with the challenges posed by North Korea, China, and a host of nontraditional security threats. Mark E. Manyin argues that, for the United States, the costs of nonintervention are rising.

See more in South Korea; Japan; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Other Report

Still Distant Neighbors: South Korea-Japan Relations Fifty Years After Diplomatic Normalization

Author: Cheol Hee Park

Over the past half century, South Korea and Japan have established themselves as firm and reliable allies of the United States, contributing to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. But despite increasing cultural exchange and deepening economic ties between the two countries, Korea-Japan relations have shown deteriorated. Cheol Hee Park explains that, given the deteriorating security situation in East Asia and the emergence of an assertive China, the United States has an interest in repairing Korea-Japan relations.

See more in South Korea; Japan; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Primary Sources

Remarks by U.S. President Obama and South Korean President Park

President Obama and President Park spoke at a joint press conference on October 16, 2015. They discussed North Korea's nuclear activities, trade initiatives such as the Korea-United States U.S-ROK Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership, and U.S.-Korean cooperation in issues such as climate change and global health.

See more in United States; South Korea; Regional Security


China-Korea Relations:Prospects for a Strategic Partnership?

Authors: Scott A. Snyder and See-won Byun
Comparative Connections

Scott Snyder and See-won Byun write that President Park Geun-hye's participation in China's seventieth anniversary celebrations of the end of World War II in September affirmed Seoul's ties with Beijing. The escalation of inter-Korean tensions in late August, however, revealed the dilemmas underlying Seoul's regional diplomacy that continue to undermine coordination on North Korea and other security challenges.

See more in China; South Korea; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Primary Sources

Speech by South Korean President Park on the Seventieth Anniversary of Liberation

South Korean President Park Geun-hye spoke on August 15, 2015, marking the anniversary of Japan's surrender during World World II. President Park discussed the development of the South Korean economy and relations with North Korea and with Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave a speech on the end of World War II the previous day. See's timeline, "Last Days of Imperial Japan" for background information.

See more in South Korea; Japan; History and Theory of International Relations; Sovereignty


Brad Glosserman and Scott Snyder: How to Defeat the 'Korea Fatigue'

Authors: Scott A. Snyder and Brad Glosserman
Asahi Shimbun

The Japan-South Korea relationship steadily improved in advance of parallel ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the normalization of their diplomatic relations on June 22. In recent weeks, ministerial-level bilateral contacts resumed between economic and defense ministers, and the top leaders made positive remarks about prospects for the relationship.

See more in Japan; South Korea; Diplomacy and Statecraft

News Release

CFR Report: South Korea Should Evolve From a Hosting to Leading Role on World Stage

South Korea can best influence the global agenda by committing sufficient resources to sustainable development, financial stability, nuclear governance, and green growth, argues Scott A. Snyder, Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for Korea studies, in the introduction to a new report, Middle-Power Korea: Contributions to the Global Agenda.

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Policy Innovation Memorandum No. 49

Breaking the Stalemate in U.S.-ROK Nuclear Cooperation Negotiations

Author: Scott A. Snyder

South Korea and the United States have reached an impasse in bilateral talks on nuclear cooperation. Senior Fellow Scott Snyder argues that the United States should extend the current agreement and make a follow-on agreement contingent on the results of an ongoing study on feasibility and proliferation risks of South Korea's right to enrich and reprocess U.S.-origin nuclear fuels.

See more in South Korea; Nuclear Energy

Primary Sources

Details of Exchanges Between Japan and South Korea Regarding the Comfort Women Issue

From 1991 to 1992, the Japanese government conducted research about the trafficking of sex slaves (known as "comfort women") in Japan during World War II. The study established the Asian Women's Fund, which worked in Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia to redress victims. On June 20, 2014, more details were released about information exchanged between Japan and South Korea during the study and about Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono's statement which acknowledged the involvement of the Japanese military in establishing "comfort stations."

See more in Japan; South Korea; Human Trafficking; Violence Against Women